Village is a place to call home
The plight of the homeless in Sussex County is a much-debated topic. Several attempts to build homeless shelters or villages have been met with opposition from residents in the areas where they were planned.
Several churches, through the Code Purple project, have opened their doors over the years to house the homeless on winter nights. The rest of the time, except for a few grassroots organizations providing meals and support services, such as Shepherd's Office in Georgetown, they have been left to fend for themselves.
A large homeless population has sought refuge in the Georgetown area because human services organizations have offices and programs available in the county seat.
Soon, they will have a place to call home. Thanks to an effort involving Springboard Collaborative, First State Community Action Agency, the Town of Georgetown and donations from businesses, organizations and individuals, the county's first homeless village is fast becoming a reality.
On Oct. 17, two tractor-trailers and a flatbed truck from the Pallet Co. in Everett, Wash., rolled onto a vacant lot on First State property in Georgetown to deliver 40 rapid shelters and two bathroom facilities.
Three days later, nearly every unit was assembled on a concrete pad thanks to the efforts of volunteers. While more work needs to be done, the collaborative is planning a mid-November opening for many of those homeless residents who have been living in tents in a woods not far from the village.
Georgetown officials could have taken the route many other officials have, and turned their backs on the problem. Instead, officials joined forces with Springboard Collaborative to support the construction of a homeless/transitional village in the heart of town.
Even before the village reached the construction stage, the collaborative has coordinated outreach to a group of 60 homeless people. In the memorandum of understanding the collaborative established with First State, various supports – including mental health services – will continue, with goals to transition village residents to employment and their own housing.
Forward-thinking, caring members of the Springboard Collaborative are making a substantial investment in capital in an effort they are sure will provide a shining example for others to follow. They say this is just the first step to helping all homeless in Delaware.
Words spoken 150 years ago from an unlikely source ring true today. Artist Vincent Van Gogh said, “To save a life is a real and beautiful thing. To make a home for the homeless, yes, it is a thing that must be good; whatever the world may say, it cannot be wrong.”
The Georgetown homeless village is good. It's a place where people will be able to turn their lives around and become productive members of society again.
For more information, go to the-springboard.org.